Brubaker photo

Jack Brubaker

Did you know you can read one of the longest-running newspaper columns in the world right here on LancasterOnline - and in LNP, if print is your preference?

The Scribbler, currently written by retired LNP staffer Jack Brubaker, first appeared on May 24, 1919, in the Lancaster Daily Examiner and Express, which later merged with the Lancaster New Era, which was one of the newspapers that eventually became LNP.

According to newspaper archives, that makes The Scribbler the second-longest-running column in the world. (The longest? A column called The Beachcomber in the London Daily Express, which is one year older.)

The Scribbler ranges widely in his column topics, but the subjects are always closely tied to Lancaster. Sometimes he answers reader questions; other days he spotlights books or events related to local history.

Here, then, are five things you might learn from a trip through The Scribbler's archives.

The Amish do Spring Break

Yes, millions of tourists come here to see the Amish, but thousands of Amish from Lancaster County and elsewhere travel to Florida to get away from cold winters up north.

In Sarasota County, the Amish are a common sight on the beach - they wear swimsuits or shorts, just like English vacationers.

Amish and some Mennonites began traveling to Florida in the winter of 1925. They chose the Sarasota area in the 1930s thanks to available land for camping.

The Amish transitioned from the camps to residential areas in the 1940s. A permanent community established farms, produce markets, restaurants and churches. Visitors come and go from December through April.

Read the full column.

Kim Cleaners

The building at 59 N. Prince Street in Lancaster city that now houses Kim's Custom Cleaners was originally a church.

What's the story behind that building?

The building at 59 North Prince has very unusual architecture — especially for a dry-cleaning establishment — because it was designed as a church.

Union Bethel Church constructed the building in 1849. The congregation, now known as the First Church of God, moved to its present location, 344 W. Chestnut St., in 1925.

The old church building, which has been substantially modified, was later used as an apartment house, a Pep Boys store and the home of One-Hour Martinizing. Now it is Kim’s Custom Cleaners.

Read the full column.

Why so many Stoltzfuses?

The Scribbler's Old Order Amish informant explains why Stoltzfus is far and away the most common Amish name in Lancaster County.

The reason is obvious in retrospect - the first Stoltzfus families who settled here in the 18th century had mostly male children, thus the name proliferated much more than the names of families who had mostly female children. 

The same thing happened with Kings and Fishers.

Read the full column.

prison tour 28

A file photo of Lancaster County Prison on Jan. 16, 2019.

The man who was hanged twice

The heaviest man ever hanged within the walls of Lancaster County Prison broke the rope and fell unconscious to the ground. The botched hanging sickened several spectators, one of whom also fell flat in a faint.

Imagine what that fellow had to go through on the morning of May 23, 1912, as frustrated officials tied his half-strangled 204-pound body to a plank, obtained a stronger rope and hanged him again.

The punishment worked the second time. Antonio Romezzo finally was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. — 16 minutes after the first attempt had begun.

Romezzo was the last man hanged in Lancaster. After that, Pennsylvania electrocuted all of the condemned inside state prisons.

The state at the time was on the verge of passing a bill requiring all executions be conducted in state prisons. The mess Lancaster County made in the Romezzo hanging persuaded the legislature to pass the law at the next session.

Read the full column.

Who was Colonel Howard?

Colonel Howard Boulevard in East Cocalico Township was named for George Howard, a Reamstown native who served as commander of the U.S. Army Air Force Band and Orchestra from World War II until he retired in 1963.

He played clarinet and saxophone as a youth and earned his doctorate from the Chicago Conservatory of Music.

Under Howard’s direction, the Air Force Band became one of the most renowned bands in the world. After Glenn Miller died in 1944, Howard’s band stepped in for the Glenn Miller Band radio broadcasts.

Following retirement from the Air Force, Howard led the Washington Police Band for 10 years.

Read the full column.